January 31, 2011

NC House Passes Healthcare Freedom Act

Raleigh – The North Carolina House of Representatives today approved House Bill 2, the “NC Healthcare Protection Act”, by a vote of 66 to 50 on final passage. This legislation protects North Carolina citizens from the unconstitutional mandates enacted under the federal healthcare legislation passed last year. Enactment of HB 2 would also make North Carolina a plaintiff with twenty-eight other states in federal lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”. Every neighboring state had already passed such legislation, and it was a stated campaign issue by the new conservative majority.

The House vote came two days day after U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson ruled the entire federal health care bill unconstitutional. Judge Vinson’s ruling agrees with the assertions of the majority of the NC House that Congress cannot mandate individual citizens to make particular decisions regarding healthcare for themselves and their families.

Representative Bert Jones of Rockingham County co-sponsored the NC Healthcare Protection Act, which recent surveys indicate was favored by a 66%-25% margin by citizens of the state. "We have received letters of support for our bill by at least ten to one," Jones said. "I believe the vast majority of citizens agree that this federal action was a vast overreach beyond the proper role of the government. I will stand firm with our citizens in protecting against big government that has grown far too big in cost, power, size, and scope. I believe that lies at the core of what I was elected to do."

Many other legislative leaders agree. "The federal healthcare legislation is the first time Congress has imposed onerous requirements on citizens merely because they are alive and draw breath,” said House Majority Leader Paul Stam (R-Wake). “We believe today’s vote in the House defends our citizens against the clearly unconstitutional mandates in this overreaching federal statute.” Representative Jeff Barnhart (R-Cabarrus) led the floor debate. “Enactment of HB 2 will release North Carolinians from the excessive taxes and fines imposed by the bill if they choose to exercise their right to pay for their own healthcare rather than one of the mandated insurance plans,” said Barnhart.

One of the primary points expressed in opposition to the federal healthcare legislation was the detrimental effect its implementation will have on the economy. Job creation will be severely curtailed due to the huge costs placed on the backs of small businesses to provide mandated insurance coverage for their employees. Significant evidence from the private sector indicates the requirement will make it more difficult for businesses to expand and create jobs. “Increased federal regulation and costly government mandates are wrong anytime, but are especially harmful during this time of severe recession,” said Rep. David Lewis. “The costs imposed on small businesses and pharmaceutical manufacturers will severely hamper efforts at job creation essential to an economic recovery in North Carolina and the country.”

Representative Tom Murry (R-Wake), a pharmacist by profession, pointed out that the bill would allow North Carolina to join other states in the litigation challenging the constitutionality of the federal legislation. ”While our bill does not require the NC Attorney General to file a separate lawsuit,” he said “it does provide that our state join the other 28 states in defending our citizens against this unconstitutional individual mandate in the federal healthcare law. It’s long overdue that North Carolina stand up in defense of our citizens’ rights in this important case,” said Murry. During floor debate it was stressed that individuals must have the right to make their own health care decisions, and must not be compelled by government to choose certain options.

“It is everyone’s right and responsibility to consider which health care options are best for them and their families,” stated Representative Mark Hollo (R-Alexander). Rep. Hollo is a physician’s assistant. Government must not inhibit people’s ability to do what is in their best interest concerning their own health care decisions.” HB 2 will be sent to the Senate for its consideration.

Meanwhile, Rep. Jones stated that he intends to co-sponsor more legislation during this session that will promote job growth and also reduce the cost of healthcare, including a tort reform bill to cut frivolous lawsuits and the high cost of defensive medicine. Such initiatives are also favored by a majority of citizens according to many surveys.